Check out my story on Presidents of the United States of America in this week's Charleston City Paper.
VISITING ACT | Presidents of the United States of America
What a peach: the 'Lump' guys
By Andrea Warner
No one could escape the Presidents of the United States of America in 1995, as their self-titled debut quenched the thirsty ears of people desperate for dance-happy, silly joy-pop.
Fans of a certain age still know the words to PUSA's first smash, "Peaches," a deliciously offhand song that alternates between quiet declarations desiring a simple life, and pulsing anger, as lead singer and songwriter Chris Ballew squishes "nature's candy" in his fist.
"Lump" and "Kitty" followed, and pretty soon PUSA was ubiquitous. Their fame reached another level of notoriety when the God of Goof, "Weird Al" Yankovic, turned "Lump" into "Gump," a fitting parody for a band that insists on making music that disguises its genius under lyrics like, "Kitty on the floor and I wanna touch it."
Ballew's ability to churn out head-scratching hits is just part of PUSA's success. The rest of the band is equally game to play along. Jason Finn's drums pound and propel the catchy beats, and "guitbass" player Andrew McKeag (standing in for Dave Dederer), alternates bits of brilliance between raging riffs and melody. Ballew also plays the "bassitar," and other modified instruments, which helps PUSA craft their sound.
Surviving breakups and make-ups, PUSA is back together in support of their new album, These Are the Good Times People (Fugitive). The single "Mixed Up S.O.B." is more straightforward than "Lump," but equally catchy. The country-twinge of "Ladybug" would make for a great alt-rock hoe-down. The funny but rueful "Bad Times" boasts a chorus full of sweet lament.
PUSA's live shows haven't lost any of the energy over the last 12 years either. Recent footage reveal three guys full of frenetic energy, jumping like kids on pogo sticks, and an audience that can't stop screaming. With PUSA, the more things change, the more they stay the same. These really are good times, people.